Naturally, the holidays got me to thinking about gift giving again as it does everyone. Have you ever wanted to give someone a gift so bad it hurts but you lack the financially means to give said gift or maybe it’s just not your gift to give? Such was my case this holiday season and let me tell you why…
At least once a month, I take my mother on an outing to a museum, botanical garden or just a day of what we call “junking” (visiting a thrift stop or flea–market). On the way to a new antique mall in Hickory, my mom said she was hungry and wanted to stop by BK for a burger. You know what a pig I can be sometimes, so I said sure, I could do with a Whopper (stop laughing, whore) and pulled over. While we were eating, I noticed my mom gingerly struggling to eat her burger and it felt like a knife in my heart.
Sadly, my mom hasn’t taken care of her teeth like she should and her two front teeth have broken off and crumbled. My mother’s dental hygiene is hit or miss and she’s dipped Tube Rose snuff since the fifties. I guess you would call momma a closet dipper because she only uses snuff in front of her sisters or me but never in public. When I tell people from more cultured parts of the country that both my grandmothers, my mom and one aunt dips snuff they find it really odd because they think of it as a “man thing”. I guess primarily it is now, but it wasn’t uncommon for mountain women to dip snuff back in the day when my mom first picked up the habit.
When my father was alive, my mom’s teeth were definitely better because my dad would drag her kicking and screaming to the dentist fairly often. When I talk to my mom about her broken teeth, she just says that she can’t afford to have them fixed but I know it’s more than that, it’s sheer terror at all the procedures it would take to rescue her smile, dental surgery, implants, caps, etc… It would cost a small fortune. At this point it would probably be a better bet to just pull her remaining teeth and fit her for dentures but she’d never agree to that. One of my aunts blames me for my mom’s teeth and slips in a snide remark from time to time that I’m basically a failure as a son because I didn’t keep on top of momma’s dental care and the fact that I can’t afford to “fix her mouth”.
So, there I sat in Burger King watching my mother struggle through a hamburger and wishing I could give her two front teeth for Christmas but only being able to give the gift of love instead.